L.A. Crowe, J. Keegan, P.D. Gatehouse, RH Mohiaddin, A. Varghese, K. Symmonds, T.M. Cannell, Guang-Zhong Yang, D.N. Firmin
To improve 3D volume-selective turbo spin echo (TSE) carotid artery wall imaging by incorporating navigators to reduce artifacts caused by swallowing.
Materials and Methods
Images were acquired on a Siemens Magnetom Sonata 1.5T scanner. 3D volume-selective TSE scans of the carotid arteries were acquired in six healthy volunteers. A cross-pair navigator placed on the back of the tongue was used to detect swallowing and movement. Two swallowing patterns were tested: 1) a single swallow approximately halfway through the scan time, at the center of kz, and 2) repeated swallowing as often as possible throughout the scan period. Images were acquired with and without navigators for comparison. Signal intensity in the lumen was quantified for the quality of blood suppression, and the clarity of the vessel wall in the common carotid was ranked by four independent blinded observers.
In general, lower signal intensity was recorded in the lumen, and decreased blurring and ghosting were observed on scans with navigator control. This reduction in lumen signal intensity signifies an improvement in the black-blood imaging technique. The differences likely reflect the improved double inversion/blood suppression efficiency due to cycles being rejected when the heart rate changed at the point of swallowing, or decreased motional blurring/ghosting of tissue when the navigator is used, or a combination of these two effects. A statistical analysis of image quality showed a significant difference between navigated and non-navigated scans as scored by four independent, blinded observers. For both swallowing patterns, the mean score for the navigator images was on average 0.6 greater than that of non-navigator images (on a scoring scale of 0-5, where 0 = no vessel visible, and 5 = good delineation and blood suppression) and P-values for all observers were less than 0.01. Overall, the central swallow scans were scored higher than the repeated swallow scans. One reason for this may be the fact that the heart rate increased on swallowing, and this often lasted for one or two cardiac cycles after the navigator returned to the normal acceptance position. The effect of the increased heart rate after swallowing is likely to have an effect on double inversion blood suppression efficiency. Therefore, the increased amount of heart rate changes with repeated swallowing may have a greater adverse effect, even if the navigator rejects data views during the swallowing motion.
The clarity of vessel wall delineation and the apparent efficiency of blood suppression are reduced by swallowing during acquisition. Both motion blurring and quality of blood suppression are factors that can be improved with the use of a navigator accept/reject method.
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